Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Review - Captain America: The First Avenger (Warning: Spoilers)

Beware: the following review contains spoilers.

Captain America: The First Avenger succeeds more as a two-hour prequel for things to come than it does as a standalone film. It features an abundance of over-the-top action sequences, a series of convoluted plans that test the limits of your disbelief suspension, and a tacked-on romance that very much feels like it was added just so the producers of the film could claim to potential female movie-goers "hey, we have smoochies along with the punches!"

The film lacks suspense; as I sat through the two hour experience, there was never any sense that the titular Captain has anything to lose after he becomes a super soldier; no matter how ridiculous his plans are, he always succeeds. There is one scene in the film where our dear Captain has decided to sneak into an enemy base thirty miles within German territory (the film is set during World War 2). He does this wearing a brightly colored red, white and blue uniform, and has strapped to his back a similarly colored shield, emblazoned with what are clearly allied symbols. Somehow, no one notices he's there.

Enemy soldiers: "We have you surrounded."
Captain America: "I win."
Enemy soldiers: " ... what?"
Captain America: "Don't worry about it."

Another scene has enemy combatants literally run at the Captain, waving guns in their hands as they charge head first into what can be described only as most epic of fails. And this is after the Captain has lost his shield. Really. They run at him. And get beat down one by one. Gun in hand.

Worse, the Captain lacks any sort of character development that featured so prominently in the Iron Man and Thor films. In fact, Captain America seems like such a boy scout from the very get go that it's almost boring to watch his exploits. Tony Stark was a prodigal son unaware of the consequences of his actions and Thor was beset by an overwhelming arrogance; these were character traits that ultimately strengthened their respective films because they brought just a touch of humanity - of relatability - to otherwise fictional characters. Iron Man and Thor had to learn, had to grow beyond their flaws in order to succeed. What flaws does Captain America have? He's physically weak and gets beaten up a lot. How does he overcome this? Not through experience or training, or any sort of moral epiphany. He gets injected with a serum that makes him super strong.

I suppose my complaints here might have more to do with the comic book character concept itself, rather than the film's too-faithful adaptation of said character concept. I'll admit, I was never a fan of Captain America to begin with.

Fans will probably still enjoy the movie, if for no other reason than to see their beloved superhero on the silver screen. Action aficionados will enjoy the fight sequences, and the liberal use of humor that infuses the entire film kept even me laughing through most of it. As a prequel to the 2012 Avengers, it showcases the lore and history of Captain America well enough. Anybody who has seen the previous Avenger films will also get a few easter eggs out of the experience.

At the end of the day however, this film probably ranks the lowest out of all the standalone Avenger films that I have seen. Captain America lacks what has made its previous Avenger siblings great successes: heart. <3

Recommended For:
+ Captain America Fans
+ Fans of action films
+ Anybody who plans to see Joss Whedon's 2012 Avengers

Not Recommended For:
- People with low suspensions ... of disbelief.
- People who enjoy characters with depth.
- People with high expectations, especially after the buildup from X-Men and Thor earlier this year.
- People who like their movies with a touch of <3

One more time for good measure. F for fudge.

1 comment:

seeshu said...

What! I liked Captain America. Though I agree with your sentiment that his character develops very little during the course of the two hours.

But when he essentially starts out as like the bravest little boy scout ever, there's not much room for improvement, haha. He's just stereotypically too "good."